Song of the Week – Songs that use the baion (Hal Blaine) beat

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

One of the most important songs in the history of Rock and Roll is “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes.  The most distinctive feature of the Phil Spector produced track, other than Ronnie Spector’s outstanding vocal, is the opening beat played by Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine, which has become known as the Hal Blaine Beat.  You may not know it by name, but you will instantly recognize the ‘Bum-ba-bum-BOOM’ beat in the song’s intro.

Blaine was modest about his “invention” of the beat, saying:

“That famous drum intro was an accident. I was supposed to play the snare on the second beat as well as the fourth, but I dropped a stick. Being the faker I was in those days, I left the mistake in and it became: ‘Bum-ba-bum-BOOM!’ And soon everyone wanted that beat.”

Now I don’t mean to start a controversy here, or to take credit away from the huge contribution Blaine made to popular music, but that rhythm had been “a thing” before Blaine’s happy accident.  In fact, the Brazilian baion beat (as it is formally known), was used on the Leiber and Stoller produced recordings by The Drifters – “There Goes My Baby”, ”Save the Last Dance for Me”, and “Under the Boardwalk”, though not as prominently as it was on “Be My Baby”.

Phil Spector acknowledged that “There Goes My Baby” was a major influence on his Wall of Sound technique.

But let me be clear.  The way Blaine played the beat has been an inspiration for hundreds of other songs from The Beach Boys outstanding “Don’t Worry Baby”

… to Badfinger’s “Baby Blue”

…to Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”

… to “Just Like Honey” by the Jesus and Mary Chain, the SotW on March 25, 2017.

Tonypop has compiled a list of 373 songs in a Spotify playlist called “Be my baby! – The songs that use Hal Blaine’s drum intro of “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.”  You can listen to it using this link:

Enjoy… until next week.

Classic Nuggets: Paul Revere & the Raiders, “Sometimes”

I am not sure why Sometimes of all songs from my past popped into my head the other day. I think someone asked me a question, and I answered “sometimes,” and poof, there you go.

But, I am glad because I remember loving the shit out of this song when I bought Paul Revere’s third album Here They Comethough it was never a hit or even released as a single. It was covered later by The Cramps and The Flamin’ Groovies, however.

The Raiders were certainly a hot band in 1963. I saw them twice in the early 60’s opening for the Beach Boys (whom I actually saw six times and was in attendance August 1, 1964 when Beach Boys Concert album was recorded) and with music and television growing, The Raiders became a house band on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, his follow-up to Bandstand aimed at the next generation of pop music kids.

But, talk about an advanced sounding song, recorded in 1965, Sometimes was produced by Terry Melcher. Melcher was a principal producer for Columbia Records at the time, and was the son of Doris Day. Melcher had a band–The Rip Chords–who had an early 60’s hit (Hey Little Cobra) and as part of Bruce and Terry (Here Comes Summer).

Bruce, was Bruce Johnson who eventually became a member of the Beach Boys, but Melcher also was tied to Charles Manson. Melcher rejected Manson’s audition tapes, clearly pissing Manson off. Melcher had owned the home where the Tate-LaBiancha murders took place, but (obviously) did not live there any longer when Manson’s minions did their dirty work.

Rumor has it that some of the recording of Here They Come was performed by The Wrecking Crew, but Drake Levin probably did play the guitar and his solo is pretty hot. Levin was a pioneer with guitar pyrotechnics, having been among the first to double-track a solo on Just Like Me.

To me, however, Sometimes sticks out as an actual substantive song as opposed to a lot of what turned into the car song pop dreck that highlighted pop music, along with surfing, before the Beatles and Brit Pop rescued us. Nothing represents this pre-genre better than Hey Little Cobra.

Compare that to Sometimes.

And, will try to write here more often. The re-launch of Creativesports, and work on my latest book have distracted me!

Song of the Week – Love Surrounds Me, Dennis Wilson


Today’s SotW was written by another guest contributor, Ron Marcus. Ron has guested for the SotW a couple of times before. He is an exceptional musicologist and rock historian. He’s also a (tie) dyed in the wool Dead Head, having attended almost 300 Grateful Dead concerts by 1993. Ron is also the drummer for Rockridge Station, a band based out of San Francisco’s East Bay that performs original songs and covers of Americana deep cuts.

The Beach Boys have spread their music around the world since 1961. Brian Wilson has written hundreds of songs and has been immortalized by his uncanny craft for hit songs and incredible production, especially vocal harmonies that have hummed in the heads of millions of people for generations. His story was on display in the fantastic biopic Love and Mercy and he just finished a worldwide tour honoring the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, his seminal album that inspired the Beatles to produce Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (considered by many the greatest recording of all time). His battles with mental illness are legendary and represent survival against many odds to come out so gracefully on the other side. Hardly Ignored or Obscured!

However, his brothers Dennis and Carl are a different story. Carl was a great surf guitarist, very underrated in his influence on other guitar players and his vocals on “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows” are as beautiful as any ever sung. Dennis (the Beach Boys’ drummer) is known more for being the only one in the band who was actually a surfer and car racer. He was the one that nudged Brian to write surf and car songs, which paved the road (and waves!) to their legacy. He also is known for being a drunk and druggie who was eventually fired from the band. Of course, he was also infamous for his association with Charles Manson and his family; quite a way to be remembered.

This week’s SotW is called “Love Surrounds Me” by Dennis Wilson. It is from the previously unreleased Bambu, the follow up to his seminal 1977 solo album Pacific Ocean Blue.

POB was critically praised and a seller of 200,000 albums, and it was the first solo release from any Beach Boy. Momentum high, he continued to write incredible, deep textured songs that were slated for inclusion on Bambu, recorded in 1978 and 1979.

As his personal life fell apart, he descended into such self-destructive behavior that he lost all the friends and believers who engineered and produced these songs. So the project died on the studio shelves where it stayed until 2007, 34 years after his tragic death. The engineers and producers finished the mixes and gave the world a treat releasing Pacific Ocean Blue on a 2 CD set that included outtakes and the aforementioned, unreleased Bambu.

“Love Surrounds Me” shows a sensitive side of the wild Beach Boy. He plays most of the keyboards and drums. The harmony vocals are so particular that he went to 6 different studios for final mixing! This track features future girlfriend Christine McVie, from Fleetwood Mac, as one of the singers,

This is just a taste of the depth of Dennis Wilson’s catalog. By the way, none of his songs are about surfers or cars! Just for the record, he is the uncredited writer of Joe Cocker’s 1974 hit ‘You Are So Beautiful.”

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – California Girls, The Beach Boys


Today’s SotW is a little out of the ordinary. That’s because it really only focuses on part of a song rather than the whole thing – the intro.

This idea popped into my head recently when I was watching a TV show and a commercial for AT&T Wireless came on. I wasn’t paying much attention but they use the Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and the song’s intro instantly caught my ear. It’s really nice.

When used correctly, a pop song’s intro acts like a mini overture – it sets the mood for what follows. I’ve read a lot of “best of” lists for song intros on the internet and they’re littered with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Rolling Stones songs. Don’t get me wrong, they list countless great songs with great guitar “intros” but to my ear they mostly just establish the riff that get played throughout the rest of the song. That may be your criteria for a great intro, but not mine. I want something a little different and more sophisticated.

Brian Wilson was the master. My all-time favorite song intro is on “California Girls.” I know, “California Girls” doesn’t seem to qualify as Ignored Obscured Restored, but the intro certainly does. Beside, what’s more American than the Beach Boys on 4th of July weekend?

Where the hell did that intro come from? It’s so simple yet so perfect. It uses the notes of a B chord, repeated four times – first just guitar and piano, then with bass, then a horn in harmony, then the swell of a horn section in a more complex harmony – before moving down a step to A.

This wistful piece of music is a perfect contrast to the easy rolling feel of the song’s main verse/chorus structure. Brilliant!

In the harder rock genre, Joe Walsh had a good instinct for writing intros. Check out “Funk #49” when he was with The James Gang and “Rocky Mountain Way” for a couple of examples.

Enjoy… until next week.